Lest We Forget: Many Canadians in the Dark about the Military Heroes in Their Family Trees, According to New National Survey
Ancestry.ca offers free access to its entire Canadian military collection, offering a rare look into the service records, circumstances of death and final resting grounds for Canadian soldiers
TORONTO, ON (November 1, 2011) – Despite our national promise to not forget our military heroes, many Canadians are unaware of the military contribution their ancestors may have made to their country. In a recent survey, Ancestry.ca, Canada’s leading family history website, discovered that more than one third of Canadians do not know if their ancestors fought in the First or Second World War, while nearly half of the population are unaware if their ancestors were awarded a medal for their military service.
In honour of Remembrance Day, and to help Canadians learn more about their military ancestors, Ancestry.ca, is offering free access to its complete collection of Canadian military records from November 9 to 13. These collections contain more than one million images and more than 700,000 original records.
The Remembrance Day records include rich collections such as the Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914–1918 and Canada, Militia and Defence Forces Lists, 1832, 1863–1939 databases. These will be of interest to the millions of Canadians with ancestors who fought in the wars that helped to define our nation. For those Canadians who do not to know whether their ancestors took part, these collections can help them potentially make discoveries about the unknown military heroes in their family tree.
And for those whose female ancestors served their country, the open database accounts for the many women who served as nurses and later as members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps alongside the soldiers of the First World War. These brave women can be found in service and burial records and registers.
Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914–1918 contains more than half a million records and includes attestation papers of all the soldiers who enlisted in the Canadian forces. Attestation papers indicated the willingness of the men to serve in the forces and also details their birthplace, age, next of kin and regimental number.
Canada, CEF Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914–1919 contains more than 70 thousand records detailing the circumstances of death of approximately two thirds of the 68,000 Canadian soldiers who fought and died in the First World War in Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. These registers, also known as the ‘Black Binders’, record the final resting place of the soldier, nurse or other individual, and record the notification of the next of kin.
Also included in the free open database are the Canada, CEF Burial Registers, First World War, 1914–1919. The more than 55 thousand records in this collection contain the burial registers for Canadians who sacrificed their lives during the First World War. These ‘Brown Binders', report all known information about the death and initial burial of a soldier, nurse or other individual, and list the bodies of over 11,000 men never recovered as "killed in action".
Ancestry.ca Managing Director Roger Dunbar comments: "While Remembrance Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the military heroes that have served this country, so many Canadians are unaware of family members who have participated in the armed forces or even perished in defense of our nation, even though those ancestors may be no more than two or three generations back. We hope this open database provides Canadians with an opportunity to discover, celebrate and commemorate their rich family histories."
The collections also provide opportunities for Canadians to learn the details of service of some of their nation’s most famous soldiers, including:
- John Diefenbaker (1895–1979) – the attestation papers of Canada’s thirteenth Prime Minister can be found in Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914–1918, indicating his willingness to serve at the age of 21 and listing his next–of–kin as his father.
- Sir Arthur William Currie (1875–1933) – the first Canadian commander of the four divisions of the unified Canadian Corps of the Canadian Expeditionary Force can be found as a lieutenant in the Canada, Militia and Defence Forces Lists, 1832, 1863–1939, receiving the British War Medal.
- John McCrae (1872–1918) – The attestation papers of the famous author of In Flanders Fields, who penned the poem in the trenches of the Battle of Ypres in France, can be found in Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, 1914–1918.
To discover their military heroes, Canadians can visit www.ancestry.ca/Remember.
¹ comScore, 2010, based on genealogy related websites selected from the Family and Parenting sub–category under the Community category
For further information, please contact Ancestry.ca's Canadian PR agency, Media Profile, at 416-504-8464 or Jeri Brown at Jeri.email@example.com